How To Multiply Your Growth A Step At A Time

Your willingness to continue learning, developing, and growing determines your intelligence more than your I.Q. You can increase your results in remarkable ways by practicing 1% a week improvement. 

Aesop’s fable of the race between the tortoise and the hare teaches us about different ways to get results. The hare was naturally faster, more agile, and more gifted in covering distances than was the tortoise. For his part, the tortoise overcame a lack of speed with focus and perseverance. In the end, the tortoise won the race.

I want to be the hare, but the tortoise is my example.

I graduated high school with a 3.25 out of 4.0 grade point average. Not bad, but not that good. I struggled the first two years at the University of Washington. By the end, however, I graduated with a 3.4 – higher than my high school G.P.A. A few years later I completed a Master’s degree and graduated with a 3.85 G.P.A. and went on to a earn a doctorate.

Do you see the trend? What happened to this very average student?

I increased my ability to study by applying The Rule of 72 to my learning.

Let me explain. The Rule of 72 helps you work out how long it takes to double an investment. At first blush, it seems like 10% annual rate of growth would take 10 years to double it, but it doesn’t. It actually takes around 7.2 years to double your investment because of principle of compounding.

Compounding means you get results from not just your initial investment, but from all the growth too.

Here’s the formula: Years To Double Investment = 72 ÷ Annual Interest Rate

I realized that my natural abilities and intelligence were not my limit, they were my starting point. I built on them. I figured if I got 1% better a week, within 15 months I’d double. 

Practice 1% A Week Improvement

Improving 1% a week doesn’t sound like much. And that’s the whole point of the magic of compounding – a little adds up to a lot over time.

What could 1% a week improvement look like? Here are examples of one-percenters in a number of different areas of life:

Personal productivity

  • Identify the one thing I want to accomplish this day/week/month.
  • Remove distractions so I can focus.
  • Create, then practice my daily routines.

Communication

  • Listen longer before saying something.
  • Ask questions to clarify what the other person is saying.
  • Look for positive ways to view the person.

Strategy

  • Understand the bigger vision.
  • Look for hidden opportunities amid challenges.
  • Push forward with the strategy, even after the newness has worn off.

Relational

  • Spend time with each of my kids, one-on-one.
  • Create space for my spouse and me to talk.
  • See a friend for no reason other than friendship.

Imagine how you would change, and your results would change, if you were to adopt these one-percenters into your life one by one. The results would compound too. For example, your increased skills in communication would affect your relationships, your marketing, and your sales.

Watch out! Compounding works the other way too. A 10% debt compounds annually to double in 7.2 years. And so do your bad habits and poor skills. I find this challenging as I enter my 50s and want to relax a bit and rely on my established character and skills. If I do, my growth will plateau and then begin to decline. And I don’t want that.

One-percent growth is a metaphor. The question is: How do you want to improve in some small way this week? And next week? If you do, and continue, before you know it you’ll have accomplished more than you were naturally able to.

That’s personal development.

Question: What opportunities would open for you if you were to practice 1% a week improvement? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is an author, speaker and Professional Certified Coach. He helps on-the-go leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    • Brandon Price

      Very good thoughts, thanks. It’s amazing how easy it is to improve, but how hard it is to find the motivation to do so.